DuPrau, J. (2003). The city of Ember. New York, NY: Random House.
This is an interesting dystopian novel for tweens and will appeal to fans of The Giver and The Hunger Games. In this book the children of the city of Ember must take a job once they graduate from school at age of twelve. They all chose their job randomly from a hat and Lina is disappointed when she draws Pipeworks laborer when she desperately wants to be a messenger. Her classmate Doon draws messenger and surprises the class when he is angry and disappointed with his job. He knows the city is running out of supplies and desperately wants to be a hero for the city so he trades jobs with Lina hoping he can somehow find a way to fix the generator. He quickly discovers he won’t be able to fix it but is drawn into a mystery uncovered by Lina, a set of mysterious instructions that may lead the way to another place if they can decipher the message that has been partially eaten by her baby sister. They find the way out and uncover the mayor’s corruption during their search. When they try to tell people what the mayor is doing they find themselves facing arrest for slander. They are forced to leave the city of Ember without really telling anyone else how to escape. The book ends with the discovery that they had been living underground and the pair throwing a note into the city telling the rest of its citizens how to escape.
This is only the first book in a four book series and is meant for readers age 9-12. In addition to the other books in the series there is also a graphic novel version of the story. This is a shorter book and has larger print making it particularly well suited to younger tweens. One ten year old reader stated “The City of Ember has a great ending, an amazing story line, and a fantastic visual description”( Ericaxo818, 2010).However, the story is still interesting and sophisticated enough to keep some older tweens interested particularly those that are more reluctant readers who will appreciate the larger print. Looking on commonsensemedia I saw several older tweens and young teens that felt they were too old for the story but there were still a few who greatly enjoyed the book.
Ericaxo818, Member reviews for The City of Ember. (2010, November 14). Retrieved May 6, 2015, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/the-city-of-ember/user-reviews/kids